Re: [OPE-L] the wisdom of crowds

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 09:18:30 EST

Chosing leaders is an elitist and aristocratic principle ( aristos =
best) one choses the best people and lets them decide.

In practice it goes with a centralist form of decision making with one
person, a president, or prime minister in charge.

The crowd chosing its leaders is not direct democracy, it might be
called 'indirect democracy', but it is really aristocracy.

The democratic approach relies on having a sufficiently large number of
ordinary people in the deliberative body for their collective wisdom to
exceed that of one man or woman.



Sent: 06 December 2007 13:25
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] the wisdom of crowds


        > Gerry, have you read 'The Wisdom of Crowds' by Surowiecki?



        Hi Paul C:


        No, I haven't.  I'm not sure I see the relevance, though. 

        I agree with the proposition that large groups of people

        are smarter than an elite few.  But,  how does that 

        speak to the choice between direct democracy (where the

        'crowd' chooses its leaders) and  random selection 

        where the crowd does not choose (except to the extent

        that they consented to the process of random 

        selection to begin with)?    


        In solidarity, Jerry



        [JL wrote]

        A process where there is a random selection of
        is a worthwhile goal.  But - especially in the early period in
the development 
        of post-capitalist societies, there may be advantages to forms
of direct 
        democracy whereby administrators/leaders are selected on the
basis of 
        the program (and possibly other criteria, like experience) which
        advance.  We should not be so naive, after all, to assume that
        conflicts and self-interest  will cease with the emergence of
        societies and in that context selecting leaders randomly is a
bit like
        playing Russian roulette.  
         [PC wrote]
         2.       I think that the institution of the randomly selected
assembly combining legislation with executive function is the key here.
So long as you have a state structure based on an elected or appointed
head of state - the roman dictatorial or imperial model, the role of
leadership and command are combined. In a randomly selected popular
assembly, the working masses will   be in the majority ( except perhaps
in a highly parasitic rentier state).  As Aristotle says, the poor are
always many and the rich are few. This class character of the state then
provides a high probability that it will make decisions in the interests
of the masses, provided that leadership in the original Leninist sense
of mass education is there.


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